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Friday, May 1, 2009

Kumbakonam Temple Visits II

The main temple for Lord Sukran is located at Kanjanur, 18 km in the Kallanai-Poompuhar Highway of Thanjavur district. This is the 36th in the series of Thevara Sthalams in Chola Nadu north of the Cauvery. The deity is Agneeswarar and Ambal Karpagambal, tirtham is Agni Tirtham. It is one of the Navagraha Sthalams in Thanjavur area.This shrine is also referred to as Palaasavanam, Bhrammapuri and Agnistalam. Stone images of Natarajar and Sivakami are seen in this temple in the Nataraja Sabha referred to as the Mukti Mandapam. The Shivatandavam here is referred to as Mukti Tandavam. Legend has it that Shiva blessed Paraasara muni with a vision of the cosmic dance - Mukti tandavam here.
Tiruvidaimarudur is considered to be the 30th in the series of Tevara Stalams in the Chola kingdom located south of the river Kaveri. The deity is known as Marudavaanar or Mahalingeswarar. The consort is called Perunalamaamulaiyaal, Brihadsundarakuchambika. Vriksham is Marudamaram,the Theertham is Cauvery & Patikam : Appar, Sundarar. Significance: This huge temple is one of the greatest Saivite shrines in Tamilnadu and is referred to as Madhyarjunam Kshetram and is said to be on par with Chidambaram and Varanasi. Madhyarjunam translates into 'Idai Marudu' in Tamil. Marudu stands for the stala vruksham maruda maram. Kings from as far away places are said to have visited this shrine. Legend has it that Shiva was worshipped by Saraswathi, Lakshmi, Kaali, the VEdas, Vasishtar, Skanda, Vishnu and Agastya. This temple is surrounded on four corners by temples dedicated to Viswanathar, Rishipureeswarar, Aatmanathar and Chokkanathar and hence the name Pancha Lingastalam. One of the interesting beliefs held here is that an abhishekam performed to Chokkanathar to the accompaniment of the megaraagakurinji raaga would result in a bountiful monsoon.
According to legends it is considered highly auspicious to do a pradakshinam (a circumambulatory walk through the corridors) on these 3 corridors:
Aswamedha praharam: This prakaram or corridor is the outermost prakaram and doing pradhakshinam in this praharam will give the effect of doing Ashwamedha yagam.
Kodumudi praharam: This is the middle corridor and doing pradakshinam in this prakaram will give the effect of visiting Mount Kailash - the Abode of Lord Shiva.
Pranava praharam: This the innermost corridor and doing pradakshinam in this prakaram will give mokshaa (salavation).
King Varaguna Pandian of Pandiya Naadu,an ardent devotte of Shiva, visited this temple to rid himself of Brahmahati Dosham. He entered the temple from the East but exited from the West and thus got rid of the Brahma Hatti Dosham.
A separate shrine for Mookambikai is of special significance here. Lord Shiva appeared in the form of Arthanareeswarar to sage Markandeyar at this sivasthalam.
The ruling goddess of this temple is known by many names such as Vishnu durga, Durga lakshmi, Navasakthi Nayaki, Navayoga Nayaki, Navagraha Nayaki, Navaratri Nayaki, Navakoti Nayaki, to name a few. She is said to protect the northern gate of this temple. The temple has five majestic gopurams and the splendid architecture of this place can be attributed to the styles of the Pallavas, Cholas and the Nayaks. Traditionally, the ruling deity is Dhenupureeswarar or Patteeswarar and the goddess is His Consort, also known as Gnanambika. This is the 23rd among the Thevara Sthalams located to the South of the Cauvery. The place has a long association with Lord Rama. Viswamitra got enlightened here on Gayatri Mahamantra and was conferred the title - Brahmarishi. She was the crowning triumph of the Chola emperors. Seated on the Mahishan, She appears as the Simhavahini, with Her eight hands holding the conch, wheel, bow, arrow, knife and a parrot, abhayakaram, and kedayam . Draped in traditional madisar saree with lemon and arali garlands, she is ‘shanta swaroopini’
People believe that everyday during the Rahu kalam, Rahu comes and worships Durga. The temple's tank is called the Rama Theertham. Tirugnana Sambandar and Ramalingar have composed many hymns in praise of Her.
Sri VellaiPillaiyar Temple is situated at Thiruvalanchuzhi, a village near Kumbakonam. It is easiest approached via Swamimalai from where it is around 5 Kms. A white colored image of Ganapati - Shweta Vinayakar(Vellai Vinayakar or Nurai Pillayar) is the center of worship here. Legend has it that the Gods (the Devas) fashioned this image out of the foam that was generated when the milky ocean (Ksheera Samudram) was churned by them, in their quest for the celestial nectar Amritam. Indra the King of Devas is said to have had this image in his possession after gaining immortality through Amritam, and during his penance at Swamimalai, set the image down at Tiruvalanchuzhi, after which it became rooted to the spot. Inscriptions reveal that Raja Raja Cholan had made several endowments here. There are inscriptions here from the period of Parantaka Chola I.

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